The four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John gives us a narrative of the life of Jesus when He walked on this Earth among mankind. One of the things that gives me comfort and encouragement are the stories where Jesus showed compassion on people who in the eyes of society did not deserve such.
Jesus didn’t limit his precious time on this Earth only to those who were in step with society. Such as He visited the home of an unpopular chief tax collector named Zaccheus. He had a conversation at a water well with a Samaritan woman who had a sordid past. He allowed a woman described as one who lived a sinful life to pour perfume on his feet.
In Luke 18:35-43, there’s a story of Jesus showing compassion on someone who was among society’s forgotten. Jesus was near the city of Jericho where among the people was a blind beggar sitting on the way side. The blind man heard the commotion of the multitude and asked what was going on. He was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He recognized the name. Even though he was disabled and an outcast, he had heard about Jesus, His teachings, and miraculous healing power.
The blind man cried out, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me”. He was hoping that Jesus might be willing to heal him too. It didn’t hurt to ask! Those around him were not encouraging him. Instead, they were doing their level best to shut him up. I guess they thought Jesus had no time for blind beggars any more than they did. They probably would have preferred the blind man had left so he could be out of sight and out of mind. Maybe he made them uncomfortable because of his disability. Those with disabilities in today’s world could identify all too well with the blind beggar in this story.
The blind man ignored the pleas for him to keep his mouth shut. In fact, he just got louder with his plea of “Thou son of David, have mercy on me”.
Jesus heard the pleas. He could have looked the other way and continued on his journey to Jericho. Instead, he stopped and beheld the man who couldn’t see him. Jesus commanded him to be brought forward and when he came near, Jesus asked him what did the beggar want. It had to have been obvious he was a blind man. But Jesus wanted the man to tell him in his own words what he wanted. Just as Jesus wants us to come to him in prayer with our troubles even though He already knows all about them. The man’s response was short and to the point: “Lord, that I may receive my sight”. He simply wanted to see.
It touches my heart that Jesus didn’t tell the man, “Your blindness isn’t my problem. It’s your problem.” Jesus didn’t just utter words about loving thy neighbor; He lived those words. He taught us our neighbor isn’t only those who looks, acts, and talks like us, but those who don’t as well. It isn’t just loving those who are physically and mentally healthy, but those who aren’t.
Jesus granted his request telling him, “Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee”. The man’s sight was instantly restored. He glorified God and so did the people who witnessed another one of Jesus’s miracles.
The man’s faith did make all the difference. If he had listened to the crowd who urged him to shut up, he would have gone away still a blind man. He took it on faith that what He had heard about Jesus being God’s son was the truth. He believed Jesus had the power to heal him and stubbornly refused to let anyone stop him from calling out to Jesus for mercy.
On my job as a substitute teacher’s aide, I have the privilege of helping students who are outside of the student body mainstream. Some of them have Down Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or are blind, deaf, or depend on a wheelchair to get around. I also have the fortune of working with kids who are living on the same Autism spectrum as myself. I can’t cure them of their disability any more than I can tell my constant companion of autism to go away.
But I can help them with their classwork, clap at their accomplishments, hug them when they want one, and encourage them to play on the playground. I can see them and let them know I do. Just like Jesus saw the blind beggar instead of looking the other way.